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IPL auction talking points: Australia's lucky 13, Chawla's fat paycheck

Why did top New Zealand stars go unsold? Who were the biggest gainers? Some of the key takeaways from the IPL 2020 auction

Srinath Sripath
Glenn Maxwell warms up ahead of the game  •  BCCI

Glenn Maxwell warms up ahead of the game  •  BCCI

Big Picture
As many as 338 players went into the auction looking to find buyers for 73 spots across teams. Only 62 of them succeeded, with all teams filling up their eight overseas spots.
Capped Indian players found the going tough, with at least nine of them not finding a buyer at the auction, Yusuf Pathan and Hanuma Vihari being the prominent ones. There was not a single Indian millionaire at the auction, partly due to the number of Indian names retained by franchises, leading to a shallower pool than usual. It was Piyush Chawla - to widespread surprise - who came closest to the million-dollar mark, attracting a INR 6.75 Crore ($0.95mn) bid from the already spin-rich Chennai Super Kings.
Kolkata Knight Riders, too, threw up a surprise with their bid to welcome back IPL's veteran of veterans, the 48-year-old Pravin Tambe. There was a lot of interest in India's U-19 contingent too, ahead of the World Cup starting next month.
It would be Australia's evening out through and through, led by Pat Cummins who became the most expensive overseas buy in IPL history, at INR 15.5 Cr ($2.18mn). He was one of three millionaires from Australia, along with Glenn Maxwell (KXIP) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (Mumbai Indians). As many as thirteen Australians found a team - Aaron Finch moved to his eighth different IPL side. If it was Australia's day at the top end, some prominent New Zealand stars found themselves without a team this time - the likes of Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, Ish Sodhi, Colin de Grandhomme and Adam Milne, to name just four players from IPLs past.
While every franchise had an increased purse of INR 3 crore this time (taking the total to 85 crore), few used it up, with Kings XI Punjab assembling a 25-man unit at just 80% of their purse value. And thanks to Cummins' price and some smart late bargain buys, Kolkata Knight Riders were the biggest spenders of the evening.
The auction's biggest gainers
While this relatively low-key auction didn't see as many unheralded talents make the headlines for becoming millionaires, three uncapped Indians featured among those in high demand from franchises. Last year's millionaire Varun Chakravarthy, sidelined by injuries and smarting from a forgettable start to his IPL career, found a buyer in Kolkata Knight Riders at an INR 4 crore ($0.56 mn) price-tag. Last year, he had conceded 25 runs in his first-ever IPL over, against the same side.
Teenage sensation Yashasvi Jaiswal was bought at 12 times his base price by Rajasthan Royals, on the back of a stellar limited-overs domestic season. Kings XI, meanwhile, went all out to get India U-19 legspinner Ravi Bishnoi for INR 2 crore ($0.28 mn).
The leader, though, was Sheldon Cottrell, comfortably going past the million-dollar mark from a base price of $0.07mn (INR 50 Lakh) to Kings XI Punjab. Along with Shimron Hetmyer, who had another heady day under the hammer, Cottrell made the most of his recent form and the in-demand left-arm angle that he brings to the game.
The value buys
Chennai Super Kings' winning bid of only INR 5.5 crore makes Sam Curran something of a value buy. Alongside Cottrell, Curran was a prominent left-arm seamer at the auction, and combined with his ability to bat, could prove to be a star on the slow pitches at Chepauk. You would have thought there would be more demand for him at the auction.
Alex Carey can keep, bat anywhere in the order, and play spin well - a set of attributes that make him a unique proposition among overseas stars. Carey went to Delhi Capitals for INR 2.4 crore, at which point there were a number of high and low fives at the Capitals auction table. We can see why.
It didn't quite rain bids for Fabian Allen, and we can't help but wonder if that has anything to do with his absence from West Indies' ongoing series in India. Allen has proven to be quite the finisher in the Caribbean Premier League and has put up performances with the bat for West Indies. At INR 50 lakh, he could be quite the value acquisition for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Chris Green's stock has been rising on the T20 circuit for a while now, so the relative lack of IPL interest in him may seem like a gaping hole on his CV. He specialises in bowling in the Powerplay, and with an economy rate of 6.02 over the last two years, is among the leading T20 spinners in this phase. With Sunil Narine's form dipping in recent years, Green could don the role of the containing bowler in the first six overs for Knight Riders. His price? Only INR 20 lakh ($0.03mn).
Teams going all out for their targets
There are bidding wars, and there's the Cummins bidding war. It wasn't just a case of two or three sides going all out for the most sought-after talent at the auction. Knight Riders waited till the 15 crore mark to enter the fray, and snapped him up after remaining silent for the most part. Brendon McCullum later confirmed that they had come in hoping to get "the best player at the auction" at any rate.
There was intense bidding for Finch and Eoin Morgan, too. That's perhaps down to their leadership capabilities apart from their batting - with RCB and Knight Riders securing their services at over three times their base prices. Capitals went all out for Hetmyer, while Kings XI did not stop until they secured the uncapped Bishnoi. Cottrell had Capitals and Kings XI leaving their paddles up for a long while before the latter got him beyond a million dollars.
Chennai Super Kings, who had very few spots to fill, showed they were prepared to go the distance to snap up Chawla. The wristspinner turns 31 next week and hasn't been in the best of form in recent seasons, but that didn't stop them from paying INR 6.75 crore for him. Coach Stephen Fleming later said his quality and relationship with CSK captain MS Dhoni were among the reasons they had picked him out. Dhoni - and CSK's - penchant for paying big sums for allrounders continued with the acquisition of Sam Curran for INR 5.5 crore, staving off intense interest from Delhi Capitals.
The Unsold XI
The big-hitting Alex Hales, Evin Lewis and Yusuf Pathan, overseas wristspinners Ish Sodhi and Adam Zampa, and IPL veterans like Shaun Marsh make quite an XI, but none of them could find a buyer this time around.

Srinath Sripath is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo